tv Democracy Now Special LINKTV October 29, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PDT
welcome to another session of beliefs and believers. i'm dr. john simmons and we've got another great class here on islam- we're going to be asking another world religion to help us understand the doctrinal dimension. but we're having so much fun and we've had such an interesting set of classes that i'd just like throw it out- whatever "it" is- once again to this great audience, and any observations you've had since we last met that bring up some of our key class themes- we're always getting some interesting comments here. yeah, virginia? >> i wasn't going
to say anything this week. however- >> why not? >> i've found that- i opened new yorker, and here are political cartoons on our meditation- one thing, it says, "our journey." you know, he says, "have we arrived yet?"- these little children sitting there in meditative poses. and when we were talking about the dome of the rock, there's a spread in the magazine about that. everything seems so current now. >> you begin to see these things once you- it reminds me of my geology class. you know, i took geology to get through my general ed, and just taking that course, it helps me see more in the natural environment, and hopefully, with a class like beliefs and believers, you get sensitized, you know, to seeing the issues that regard religion and beliefs and behavior out there. anybody else? >> yitzhak rabin said, during the israeli conflict with the palestinian- or the arabs, whatever- he said if he didn't know the bible very
well, they never would have found the water holes, and he said, "if that's true, what about the rest of it?" >> yes, well said. i mean, that's what we talked about in one of our recent classes is the importance of biblical literacy, you know, at least in a country that seems to uphold it to such an extent. other comments, observations- things off the top of your head? >> this was in the wall street journal- you don't expect to find anything like this in the wall street journal- the title of it is, "praying is good medicine." and it's the story of a doctor who is sitting beside the bed of one of his patients and she is afraid that she's terminally ill, and so she asks him if he will pray with her, and he's so startled, he doesn't know what to do; he just- nobody has ever said that to him before. and he looks back over his career as a doctor and realizes that there were probably a lot of times people wanted to say that to him and they didn't. and so after a while,
he says- the last paragraph- "certainly, i'd love to pray," and he did; it was very sweet. >> and we're seeing more of that- have you noticed that?- in the medical world? well, a couple of weeks ago we saw science and- "religion finds science," or something along those lines on the front page of the major news mags, and you get a sense of that in the medical world, too, that there's another dimension opening up. we were talking about that before the class, that there's something going on because we're nearing the millennium- you know, we don't want to date the class, but there certainly seems to be a lot of interest in religion, and it's popping up in a number of areas. anything else before we trudge into- happily, i should say- into- yeah. >> well, i was going to bring up a dramatic incident that happened to my daughter and myself. we were driving home from peoria, had a nice dinner by my son, and three cars ahead of us, two pickup trucks crashed, and the dynamic portion of the whole thing- because we
called 911 and that- was how everyone worked together- cars parked on the side, men lifted the truck off of people. we were able to get the people out- the two boys were okay; the wife was really in bad shape. but i mean, to be part of that, i mean, it is like you just prayed a lot and said, "god, please help these people survive." and the gentleman who had turned over in the other pickup truck, he was able to get out, we were able to help him out and that. but i did feel helpless- you know, you feel like you wish you were a nurse or something. but i think just the mere fact of us trying to help these people, and it was incredible, it was just an incredible situation until the police arrived and then the ambulance arrived to help them and that. >> you know, i see that so often with tragedy. what do you think, from the perspective of our class, brings out that sense of you want to help, you want to care- you're
out of your own selfishness? any other insights you might have from that perspective? >> just from the individual- i mean, i was on the phone calling 911 and a man was walking past, he says, "ma'am, i just got ahold of them." i mean, it's like everyone was reaching out- your arms and your hands- and we had water and people were bringing blankets, and it just- you know, a lot of times when you pass an accident, you think, "what are all those people doing?" but being so close to this one, it was like you were drawn into it- you had to stop, you had to see what you could do, because you saw that the pickup trucks were both upside down, that there were people pinned in it. and you didn't even think, you know, because e people were- you know, they said, "get away," with the gas thing; you don't even think of things like that, because you do want to help the people. you see them there and you see them trying to get out and that, and i just- it was my daughter, we just felt, you know, once the people came and the ambulance and that, we felt that they were in good hands,
and then we just got in the car and we said a prayer together. >> you know, one thing i think that- along that line- is it raises us up out of our selfishness, our ego- centeredness- and it's actually apropos since we're going to talk about islam, you know, today, where you don't think of yourself as a separate entity; you submit, you give to allah, you let allah take over your life, and this- "islam" meaning submission. and i think that's just a hint of what happens in a tragedy like that is that you're drawn out of your own self- concerns and you really do feel a sense of compassion and caring for other people. good one. well, let's go through our notes here on islam. you know, once again, we're just trying to get a flavor for what islam has to teach us about the doctrinal dimension- not pretending, once again, that we're going to learn everything about islam- but a wonderful way to think about doctrine and ethics and social dimension. and so in terms of our graphics here,
i've put it in our key class themes- you know, the first one being identity. and the key, i put up here on the graphic the primary prayer- god, allah is great, god is great, there is no god but god and mohammed is his profit. the key teaching- submission to god- and that is at the very heart of it. once we've established that identity, we can move on to relationship, and as i mentioned, islam is about submission- giving up, the letting go, knowing that allah is everything and love of allah is the key. so muslims believe in total submission to the will of allah. moving on down through the graphics, we can then begin to develop these. the qur'an- not quite like the bible because this is the holy textbook that is literally breathed forth by allah- it's revealed; it's a sacred text, but more than just a book
that you could have a critical analysis of, this is the word of god. and they say- i'm not very, you know, i think i got a d- in my arabic back in graduate school- but they say the beauty of it as it's recited; it's meant to be recited, and that's the key. another key point- shirk. idolatry- putting anything else in the place of allah. we'll see when we go inside a mosque via our video- dome of the rock- no pictures, no pictures of- you know, as we might have a picture of jesus or saints or whatever, shirk is putting anything ahead of allah. so moving down the pipe here in terms of relationship, the whole muslim community, the qur'an binds it together, and islam is very much a religion that sees itself as being international- a religion for all peoples. moving on here again with the graphics, sharia- the islamic law- ethical dimension.
now let's not lose track of our key theme here. we're talking about doctrine, ethics, and the social dimension, and of course, sharia, the ethical dimension drawn from the teachings of the qur'an, defines the social dimension in the islamic community. prayers- a lot- five times a day. and shortly, we'll here dr. ossie from the american islamic college describe the five times a day prayer, but this is very important. janet, jump in here, please. >> in houston smith's book, it said originally mohammed wanted the prayer 50 times a day. and moses said, i've got to talk with you- i know these people; you can't make it that many times. so they negotiated it down to five times a day. >> and a wonderful point, too, because we'll see in the mythic dimension- let's not forget our other dimensions that of course mohammed rose up, particularly in the al-aqsa mosque, he rose up from al-aqsa and went up into the seventh heaven and he spoke with moses,
he spoke with jesus- these people are all invited, and we should make the point that judaism, christianity, and islam all share a great tradition. other relationship- oh, yeah, jamie, you jump in here. >> well, it's similar to what her thought was. i'm just wondering if the number five had any other special significance in the muslim religion? >> you know, i honestly don't know. seven usually comes up big in most other traditions- i'm thinking christianity. i don't know the five- well, we'll see that with the five, it corresponds to the times of the day- you know, morning, midday, late afternoon, evening- so it corresponds to actually the light; there's a wonderful sense of beauty- beauty is really important in islam. yeah? >> well, the zakat- is that how you pronounce it? >> sounds good to me. >> well, this reminds me, a couple years ago, i had to- there was a visiting professor here from egypt, and we had to type an accounting
book, an islamic accounting book. so all this stuff is starting to- it's bringing back to my memory about the alms to the poor, so that it's all set up- very different structure. yeah, they're very structured- there's a reason for everything and it all goes back- it's not just to make money or anything like that- it all goes back to the qur'an and the rules of- for religion, rather than money, money, money. >> yes. and thank you for sharing that, because that's what we're about here. it's a world- view that goes back to a religious spiritual insight, that goes back to the qur'an, which is the word of allah, which is revealed to the prophet. and we see a- you know, we talked about the sacred, secular tension, you know, in previous classes, and we can even think about someone like joseph smith, who had to struggle to find his own way, his own sacred world out there. and though there's about 13 centuries separating them, both mohammed and joseph heard revelations
from angelic beings and brought a text that created a community, that was holy. interesting comparison there- very different otherwise, but you know, that's what we're looking at. we mentioned zakat, but just to run down through our relationships here, next on the graphics, besides giving alms to the poor- and we'll hear from a muslim, a believer, which we want to do in this class, we'll hear how they describe it. but also, fasting- during the month of ramadan- another key pillar in islam. another one that you might want to do is the haji. in your lifetime, you'll be wanting to make a pilgrimage to mecca- a ritual. you know, here we are keeping the ritual dimension in, but you'll want to go to the holy, holy shrine in mecca, which is, of course, again defined by myth. another term, relational- i've just pulled some things out that have worked their way into the media- but jihad. we've often heard that as a negative relationship,
kind of anti- western, but in fact jihad means the struggle for islam, the struggle for the spiritual life. i mean, it can mean attacking infidels, and has- you may have heard of islamic jihad, which is the name of a group that has attacked the secular west- but jihad means, you know, to struggle, to strive for islam. sunna- the whole body of established islamic faith. and here we have, in a nutshell, you know, why do we want to look at islam? well, because islam's beautiful and we want to look at islam. but why now in this course? because we're talking about the doctrinal, the ethical, and the social dimension, and in sunna, you get that sense- the body of established islamic faith, the morals, the practice- established by consensus- down through history, through scholars, through religious persons. and we see the sunna is the majority of the muslims, the shiite muslims, and also later, we'll talk about the sufis- they're the mystical tradition.
and we have one of the most rare videotapes- something i'm very excited to show you, actually, in this class- we have a video interview with a sufi sheik on a rooftop in nazareth, israel, so we'll be bringing that up, but we also want to talk about the sufi tradition. anyway, at the heart, for our purposes, the five pillars of islam. and why i like to touch on this at this point in the course is because the five pillars couldn't be better from any possible doctrine, any possible religious exploration, because it's religious doctrine defining ethical behavior that impacts on the social dimension. so we get all three of our- we're back to our dimension triangles- because there's just something about islam, and you know, we'll have some muslims in, in the next class to speak to it, but there's a simplicity about it. doctrine- very clear about the ethical dimension, how one is to respond in terms of behavior- and finally, how that impacts
on the social dimension. so we're going to be looking at that, you know, as we move on through it. shortly, we'll have dr. ossie, as i said, tell us, from a believer's point of view, how the five pillars work in his community. but just to run down a few of them here on the graphics, the first one, of course, is the doctrinal engine. this drives- i like to think of the first one as the doctrine that drives the other four pillars, and these are all ethical precepts that then in the entirety, it impacts on the social dimension. so the first one is the profession of faith- you know, that allah is god above all, and mohammed is his prophet, and final prophet. the second one we mentioned, praying five times a day- muslims are called upon to do that. and i love dr. ossie's explanation of what each of the positions mean, you know, in terms of ritual activity, and let's not forget our myth and our experiential dimension, because you'll see it comes back
to that. yeah, janet? >> the arab student union at morrain valley college where i teach has actually asked for- agreed to be set aside for everyone to use to pray, so that they can have a place for everyone. >> sure. when i was at uc santa barbara, the muslim student group would go out into the main common area and they would pray noon prayers, do that, and so we're seeing more and more of that kind of thing going on. yeah. >> i was in a taxicab in islamabad. you could hear the man calling, pull over to the curb, he gets out, unrolls his prayer rug, and down he goes, knocking his head. but they- with the ritual washing of hands. but i mean, it's the same for him as if he was in one of these closed communities, because all the men do it. it doesn't matter what you were doing, you stop when you hear him call, and you obey. >> and we saw that in israel. we were actually at the hartman institute, which is a jewish liberal
think tank, and our driver was a muslim. well, when that noon prayer went off, he got up out of the van, up into this beautiful little garden across the way, put out his little rug, and he did his prayers. and darn it, the camera wasn't rolling, because that would have been a good one, but it was very moving. you know, it's almost- it's not instinctive so much, but it becomes one with you. i mean, islam is a faith that, you know, you just embody, that kind of thing- it just becomes you and you become it, and i think we see that over and over again in the islamic world. anyway, we've got the second pillar, praying five times a day, alms giving that we already mentioned- you know, just looking at some of the relationship- but kind of like a tithe, but as lynn mentioned, quite complex; it's all sorted out and how and who and what gets the money here, to keep the ethical dimension going, to take care of people
in society, so we're back to the social dimension. fasting during the holy month of ramadan, which means from sunrise to sunset, no ingesting of anything, no kinds of activities that might take you away from your concentration on allah. yeah, jamie? >> when does the holy month of ramadan fall? >> it changes every year because of the moon cycle. >> it's a lunar calendar, and oh, darn it, i'm trying to think, i can't remember, it's a certain- it's a month in the lunar calendar; i can't remember if it's the 7th or the 9th. >> no, no. it shifts because of the wide range. and i was there, and believe me, there's not a restaurant- you can't buy food- but they hear them about 2:30 in the morning, they call, "women, get up and prepare the food for your man." >> we need to get back to that. there's some interesting- it reminds me of our conversation in the previous class with- or earlier on with fundamentalist christianity, because indeed,
we're still talking about religious expressions that are rooted culturally in an androcentric, patriarchal mind set. and so i don't know what we do about that- i can't possibly be an apologist for it, but it's there, and you're right. >> when you can see a white thread, that's at the time- it isn't when the sun comes up, but it's when the priests can see the white thread, he gets on his p.a. system to let everybody know. and at night, when you can't, that's when you can start eating again. >> yes. see, and it's these kinds of details that build into it. and i want to come back to talk more about beauty here, but there's a certain sense with islam, and as i understand it, the qur'an recited in arabic, that, you know, just integrates into the world, it embodies the world, and the world gives back. there's an aesthetic-
and sometimes with the ethical dimension, aesthetics- the beautiful. you know, this is something that we find from inside the community, and i'm really looking forward to having some muslims here in class who can speak to that, because not being a muslim, i can sense it, though, that the world is so complete and so beautiful that allah made, that allah has brought about, and people are here to submit to allah. but that kind of beauty, you know, comes through, and you find it in there. now, that's a critique, and we all know one problem with, you know, speaking about islam in the united states is that we've had political tensions, cultural tensions for, you know, many years now with the oil producing states, the arab states, where- actually, the arabs are a minority in islam; you know, the greatest population is indonesia and it's really very global. but some of the difficulty to speak about beauty in islam is that the media, of course, has raked islam,
you know, over the coals in the quest of various political agendas that, you know, this nation and industrial oil- needing nations have put down on them. and that tension is real- i mean, there is tension. but nevertheless, this sense of totality of beauty and unity that one senses in islam is there. just one last pillar, and then i can get you, janet, so you can get our pillars out of the way here. of course, the pilgrimage to mecca- one must do that. and again, we're talking about myth and ritual and experience, doctrine, ethics, social dimension- all of them come together in that area, because mohammed- in fact, there's this wonderful thing dr. aasi says. he says that, "why do we pray the way we pray? because mohammed prayed that way." so we're back to myth driving ritual and then on to other dimensions. okay. yes, janet? we're going to get to you.
>> i just wanted to mention about that holy month of ramadan. there are other various islamic holidays scattered throughout the year, and when- some of my students are practicing muslims, and when they come up to me and they say, "i won't be here for class on thursday because such and so is happening," i'm thinking, okay, it's a major holiday, as if somebody said, "i won't be there on christmas." i shouldn't be shocked. i just say, "okay. you're dismissed; we'll make up the work." but if we want to have a global community, which is what my community college is striving for, we need to really be more flexible about people having holidays in different faiths. i think it's very close- minded of some institutions to say only honor certain faith holidays and not other faith holidays. >> and you know, i think you're quite right and i think that's up to community. you know, we go back to community there. now if we're in detroit, and we have a high school, which we do in detroit, where the majority of the students are muslim, then there's probably going to be a little bit more weight to honoring certain holidays
in that schema. and i think that's a decision, but you're right. somebody gave me a chart that listed all the holidays of all the religions in the united states, and the students would love it because there wouldn't be any school! every day's off; every day we're celebrating one thing or another. but an interesting- you know, we get to the social dimension, you know, that's the challenge of liberty. liberty does not come easy. there was a great peanuts cartoon around that, about that, but you know, liberty doesn't come easy; it has to be all the time to have religious freedom, you have to work at it. and that's an area- it takes intelligent, caring people to do that. yeah. >> in one of the other classes, there was a monastery outside of cairo, egypt, and he said that they had 154 holidays a year that they had to fast, which means they- and normally, they had one meal a day, so you can imagine what fasting means to them.
>> yeah, well, fasting- part of is just the health aspect of it too. but you know, you're quite right, when you live in a religious community, you certainly get to it. well, i do believe- go ahead, janet, and then we'll do the roll-in here. >> i was going to add that in, too, with the fasting. i worked in a junior high, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, and the principal- i think we had maybe ten muslim students- and the principal put out a note, and then each teacher did talk to the students that these children were going to be fasting, explained that this was part of their religion, and i thought that was really encouraging in that, that it wasn't something that the children would be talking about behind someone's back. it was out in the open, this is part of their life, and we accept it as a school. >> absolutely. i think that's the kind of sensitive way when- you know how kids are. if there's anything that's different, they're immediately on it, those little nasty things- you know, making fun of somebody- and so you have to have it up front,
you know, and we see that with a lot of people with religious- you know, special needs, special holidays, things they can't do, holidays that they are not permitted to participate in, you know, this sort of thing, it's out there. yeah, helen, and then we'll get you, jamie and we'll get a roll-in. >> it's just a comment about that calendar of the year with the holidays of all the religions on it, because i bet they cluster around the equinoxes and the solstices and the quarter points, suggesting to me that there is something much more ancient than all of the world's great religions which goes back maybe to stone age or something, consciousness of the cycles of the year. >> oh, i think you're so right, and i think that, you know, to be able to draw in the natural elements- such as the prayer- you know, that you do it with the light of the day. i think we see that over and over, and i'll bet you that most of them are around the equinox, the solstice, and that kind of thing. yeah, jamie, and then i will do the roll-in. >> you know, i'm concerned
with the impact that these religious holidays have in the workplace where- a case came to light recently where some person would not or could not work on her or his religious holiday, and management decided not to go along and fired him. >> and that happens and then we have lawsuits. you know, there's the football player who's a seventh day adventist who won't play on saturdays. these incidents come up, and you know, actually, it's- you better not let me get off on this tangent, folks, because it's one of my really fun ones that we're going to spend some time on in the social dimension. but i love these kind of nitty-gritty little cases where, you know, the first amendment is tested, and we go back and forth on that. and it has to be that way. it would be nice if we all had a set of rules that we could live by, but we don't. and speaking of a set of rules, you know, i'm going to be fired if i don't get to this roll-in here. anyway, we've got dr. ossie. i love this interview.
it's at the american islamic college. just to show you how demographics are changing, we went to this college and it was previously a roman catholic girls school, and the reason we know that is because we went into what was the men's restroom and there wasn't the usual equipment. i don't think i'll go any deeper into that one, but you get the sense here that that's how the demographics are changing- you know, what was a roman catholic girls school, now we find the american islamic college. and dr. ossie is a scholar- but we won't hold that against him. he's also the religious leader, and just does a wonderful job of- i wanted him- a believer- to explain the five pillars, first off, and then also to speak just a little bit about the prayer, the ritual itself. and as he speaks about the- we catch up with him at the noon prayer. as we do that, watch-
of submission, that you are in a state of being conscious of allah and being obedient... >> i'm talking with dr. aasi at the american islamic college. dr. aasie, you're a professor here, but you also have a very strong religious role in this community, don't you? >> yeah. i basically represent different communities and conduct services at different places. but my definitely profession is as a professor of historic religion and of islamic studies. >> okay. in our study of religions, you can almost pick up any introduction to religion book and you find the five pillars of islam is usually the way it's presented. but coming from a devout muslim, could you explain the five pillars of islam to us? >> yeah. these five pillars basically are- there are two aspects of- that we just call the five articles of faith, and then the practice of that faith comprised
into the five pillars of islam. and the first pillar of islam, it is called shahada- it means bearing witness to the truth- and it goes like that, that i be a witness there is no god but allah, and i bear witness that mohammed is his final the last messenger. now this is a kind of confession out of credal formula, in a sense that anybody who wants to be- join the community of the muslims just has to take the shahada or make- confess that in the public, he will be considered as a muslim. now how one muslim, or a person being a muslim must live as his relation to god, then these are the rest of the other four pillars which explain. and so from that, the second would be what muslims call the salaat, or the performance of the worship prayer. and this worship prayer- five
times daily, prayers are called- now they are performed in congregation for the men to come participate in the congregation. as a necessity, wherever he is close by, but a person can perform individually these five. from the morning which is before the sunrise, the second, which comes soon after the noontime, and the third is in the afternoon, and the fourth, just after the sunset, and the fifth, anytime after the dark has totally become dark,k, and before the dawn. so these are the five worship daily prayers. the third pillar of islam is called the fasting of the month of ramadan. now this is the ninth month of the muslim calendar, and the muslim calendar, we must know, is a lunar calendar, so this month obviously rotates in different seasons. and this is the fasting throughout the whole of this month from dawn to dusk, which means from dawn time, the person must not eat- from the time of dawn, he must fast from eating and drinking
or any kind of bread and the wrong things: back biting, telling a lie, stealing, and all those kinds of things. so this is the whole month of islam must fast. the fourth pillar is called the zakat, which means sharing one's wealth with the poor, with the needy, and this is the best kind of sharing, and it is on one's annual savings- it is not on the income, it is not a tax, rather, it is a really just obligation for sharing the wealth with those who do not have it from those who have it and who have savings. so it has a different rate according to different kinds of wealth- for example, the gold, the silver- so there are different ways upon each thing. but finally, when we put it in currency terms, it is two and a half percent on your savings in which the whole year has passed- you have to give that to the poor, to the needy, to the orphans. so all the rate categories
really are defined, so it is not that you can spend whatever you like- now there is different categories you must have spent. and the fifth pillar is the performance of the pilgrimage- once in a lifetime, visiting, or a pilgrimage to mecca. and this is again in a prescribed month, which is the twelfth month of the muslim calendar. and there are ten days of that month one has to go and- again, this is obligatory upon those who can bear both the traveling physically as well as financially; in other words, they are not burdened upon anybody else. so if somebody is in debt, he cannot do it until he has paid all his debts. so if somebody is financially and physically capable to do this journey, he is required at least once in a lifetime. so these would be the pillars of islam. so these make the person to enter into a community and demonstrate that he believes in god and that he believes
in the message of the qur'an and mohammed. >> well, thanks to your generosity, we were allowed to attend the i guess noon prayer service. we saw a wide variety of symbolic activity, both in terms of gestures and- particularly in terms of gestures- and from an outsider's point of view, one would say that the very heart of islam is submission to god. >> exactly. >> when we saw the service, we had the whole- and the entire group facing this wall here. could you give us some idea of the importance of this? >> yeah. this wall, basically, this is- in arabic terms, this is called the mihrab and this faces towards kaaba. so a muslim is prescribed that whenever he stands in worship to god, he must stand facing towards mecca, or kaaba, which is mecca in saudi arabia. so this is anywhere we will go, wherever the muslims will be or will be worshiping, individually or collectively, they will always face towards kaaba, which is mecca in saudi arabia. this is a beautiful way
of always telling that this is the focal point. so muslims from all over the world, wherever they are- you know, south of mecca or north of mecca or east of mecca, west of mecca- they will always face towards mecca in their worship prayer. and this is obligatory- without this, worship prayer is not considered as worship prayer prescribed by islam. in the same way, this facing towards mecca and the gestures, as you mentioned, they are basically following the tradition as the prophet mohammed did it, and as he was taught by god. so that's why that if you ask any muslim the question that when you do worship prayer, why do you bow down and go to prostration and that, his simple answer, from the faith viewpoint, will be that, "i do it as the prophet did it, and that's what the prophet told me, that this is the proper way of worshiping god." but philosophers do definitely refer to all the mystic - where they will take different meanings. i will share them with you.
one of the very well known philosophers and mystic and a scholar of islam, al-hazari, he beautifully explained that what is the spiritual dimensions of the worship prayer in islam, he mentioned that muslims and other human beings standing represent that all creatures would stand. and then when he bows down, he represents all those creatures which bow down or which are like animals. and then when a muslim prostrates, he represents symbolically all the creatures are worshiping as those creatures would creep on the earth. so in this way, it is a representation, from the human viewpoint, of all the creatures worshiping and submitting to god. >> let us end on a much cheerier note than the political side. you have a qur'an in arabic and i've got the qur'an with the translation in english. arabic is an absolutely beautiful language, and what i thought we'd do is
have dr. aasi read a passage in arabic, and in my halting english, i will try and read the passage in english. >> thank you. we are going to read the first chapter of the qur'an, which is called al-fatiha- the opening- and it is also called al-hamdu- all praise to god. this is kind of- like the christian large prayer. it is exactly of that kind that in the sense that in every worship prayer, the muslims recite this chapter of the qur'an- whether they know arabic, whether they don't know arabic- every muslim almost- the child even up to the age of four and five has started memorizing this sura from the very beginning, and the sura is like that. [recites prayer with chant-like speaking]
>> and here would be the translation in english. "in the name of god, most gracious, most merciful, praise be to god, the cherisher and sustainer of the worlds. most gracious, most merciful, master of the day of judgment. thee do we worship and thine aid we seek. show us the straight way, the way of those on whom though has bestowed by grace, those whose portion is not wrath, and who go not astray." amen. thank you very much, dr. aasi, for a very
interesting interview. >> thank you dr. simmons. >> now we've got a sense here of islam in the united states, and as i may have mentioned, islam has taken over as the number two faith, so we're going to see more and more of islamic activity. yeah, chris? >> i just wanted to make a couple of comments. that was such a profound interview that it really brought up some points here for me is that by facing mecca, no matter where you all right e, really keeps the focus on what you're about, who you are, identity and relationship- all those questions are answered just from praying five times a day in the same direction that every other muslim in the world will. >> i felt the same way. you know, you get that sense of unity there. yeah, fire away. >> and it was neat that you had him sing, or speak in arabic his translation- well, like the same words that you actually said- and
that reminded me a little bit of homer in the odyssey and the iliad, and how the two traditions can really collide- the sung and beautifully lyric way, and then when we actually just say it and how english is such a dry language. >> i guess it is. you know, we talked about doctrine and interpretation, and when you're using language, you're interpreting it. and there's wonderful mythic stories where great learned scholars, when they first heard the qur'an back in mohammed's time, they heard it in arabic, and it was so beautiful- you know, the recitation- it was so beautiful that they immediately- boom! - converted. that's the idea of the beauty of the language. now we've looked here at a little bit of islam in america, and so that we can get some of these remarkable roll-in footages that we had over in israel here- i want to bring those in- let me move
first to our first roll-in and look at islam in israel. you know, you would imagine there'd be some tension there, but there's a very vital and viable community there. we had an opportunity to go to the dome of the rock, and the al- aqsa mosque, and this is just a very short piece because it took forever to try to get in there with the cameras- they were not going to let us in. and to add to the tension, as we were trying to get in through the doorway to get into the arab or the muslim area, i should say, they hauled out a young jewish fellow who had tried to pray there. i think he was praying that somehow the temple would fall and so that the jewish temple could be rebuilt. i'm not really sure, but he'd obviously been beaten, and so, you know- machine guns, the whole thing; nobody firing them, but the tension is palpable over there. nevertheless, after- thanks to our good arab guide, we were able to get in. we couldn't do any video taping in terms of interviews,
but we were able to get just a vision of the beauty. these are like, you know, the seven wonders of the world, how beautiful these are. so let me quickly go to the roll-in at dome of the rock, and then we'll see a traditional muslim family. >> there is perhaps no better way to visualize the relationship between the mythic, ritual, and doctrinal dimensions than a visit to islam's third most holy shrine, located on the temple mount in jerusalem. according to the grand mythic saga in islam, this is the rock where mohammed, after a whirlwind night journey to jerusalem, ascended into the seventh heaven. a feature that first attracts the attention of visitors to the islamic world is the minaret- the high palace from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer five times a day. inside the mosque, the austerity and majesty of islam and its god allah are strikingly evident. unlike other faiths, the islamic tendency in decoration is
to avoid visual representation of human and animal forms. geometric extractions are preferred as sacred art in islam. these designs express the perfection and beauty of allah as well as his transcendence of human forms. calligraphy- highlighting passages from the qur'an- grace the walls, and elaborate angrillwork speak of the beauty in life that only comes from submission to allah. allah is beautiful, the world created by him is beautiful, and the religious ritual that takes place in the mosque nurtures the believer's awareness and experience of this beauty. whether it serves as a sacred shrine for all islam or simply the local community mosque, these sacred structures are the center of the community, guiding all other aspects of islamic life. at al- aqsa, mohammed learned by divine revelation to pray five times a day, and so to this day, this central ritual activity,
inspired by myth and guided by doctrine, defines identity and relationship in the muslim world. >> now, having seen that, hold your wonderful good questions here because i've got to get the sheik in here, the sufi sheik, and we're down to, you know, ten minutes or so. but let's go to the next roll-in. we went to a completely average- if there is such a thing- a traditional muslim family in the town of cana- that's where jesus turned the water into wine, that's where that miracle happened. well, this is a muslim family living in cana, attempting to get along with the jewish community and the christian community, and what binds them together, as you can well imagine at this point in time, is of course the five pillars of islam. so let's hear from a traditional muslim family in israel. >> that was a thing that you first want to confess,
and to believe. >> that there is no other god, just only- >> just allah. >> - one, one god, and that mohammed is our prophet. and the second one is of our praying five times a day, and we have to pray because we don't ask to do other things, other bad things in in our life. >> so the third one is fasting in 30 days of ramadan, one month a year for us to fast 30 days. it represents many meaning for, many good meanings for why and how, and we believe that if we are fasting,
it would be good for us- our health and healthy and our social upbringing and our economy and everything. so we fast. the fourth one is the alms, but we call it the al-zakah. it is giving from our own money to the poor people and the needy people. that's- of course they call it a solution for our situation, how to treat the poor people, and how they can live in peace together, how we can live in peace together. >> and help them also too. >> yes. not just to- so that rich man or rich family can live in a good way, but you know, that also the poor can live in a good situation, because the rich have to give two and a half percent from his own money every year, and he's not to do a favor
for the poor family- he have to pay for them. >> as we do, as we do now, the countries force us all to pay taxes. in islam, they don't pay taxes- just the rich people pay their money. >> let me ask you, on prayer, on let's say this evening, as a family, will you pray together here? >> yes. >> oh. and just take some time- how long would it normally take to do the evening prayer, say? >> at first, we have an hour and a half where the men have to pray in the mosque, and the woman, it's better for them to pray at home. that's from our faith. >> will you get up in the morning and go to the mosque? is that near enough for you? >> yes, he has to. >> yes, we have to.
we have to, but- >> but if he... he can't. >> he can pray in his room- >> but the praying in the mosque is one of- better for us to pray in the mosque, because it says so in the qur'an. >> so we can see here how the five pillars define the social dimension and ethical dimension for this family. something completely different, the sufi sheik- speaking of the experiential dimension, what happens if you love allah, you submit to allah so much that the theist mystical experience occurs, that you become one with allah? well, a couple of graphics to introduce this very interesting mystical path- originally offensive; you know, to say that you're one with allah, people died for that. but the love of allah took over certain people
as the tradition developed, and we see this wonderful path of sufism, and we're going to meet a sufi sheik. from the graphics, we can see here, it's the mystical tradition in islam, from suf, which is the course wool worn by the ascetics, by the mystical people as they move through their tradition. moving on through the graphics here, if you have them, we're talking about meditation, spiritual practices, and just a love for god, a mystical union- you know, we're back to mysticism- a mystical union with god. yeah, janet? >> if we have time, i was reading this book and it has a love poem written by a woman saint. >> we have time for you! fire away. give us just love here, yes. this is a mystical love poem from- by a woman, a sufi. hit it. >> "my god and my lord, eyes are at rest, the stars are setting. hushed are the movements of birds in their nests, of monsters in the deep. and you are the just
who knows no change, the equity that does not swerve, the everlasting that never passes away. the doors of kings are locked and guarded by their henchmen, but your door is open to those who call upon you. my lord, each lover is now alone with his beloved, and i am alone with thee." >> that kind of love- love of god- that erases the boundaries between who you are and who god is- the identity and relationship issue. that's what we're seeing here. just a couple in the tradition, a famous- al-hallaj was executed because he made the proclamation, something like, "i am the truth. i am god." he was so in love with allah that he felt that he was one. he didn't mean that he was allah, but nevertheless, he took on jesus as his kind of model for this and so they crucified him, just as jesus was crucified. and the other philosopher we have here on the graphic, al-ghazali, he provided, he took over and provided a much more
philosophical defense of sufism. so finally, well, like the monastic path in christianity or other areas, religions have to take care of their mystics, and so what we find here is that the path is embraced and we're allowed to see it. so let me let a true sufi sheik speak just a bit about his experience. >> [translator) >> we take from jesus christ this- upon him his humility in dressing. humility in eating. i will mean the whole knowledge. nobody can become a mystic, a sufi, without having a deep knowledge.
we love those who hate us. we bless who curse us. we do not keep hatred against anyone in the world. we're against rules. and we do not even curse those who are fermenting. we hope that god will illuminate his way to the right. >> you speak of love and humility in the sufi tradition. do you feel that then the violence that we sometimes see in the holy land is very painful, very difficult? >> [speaking in arabic] [translation] >> violence cannot emerge from people- it cannot emerge
from people who love god, in any religion. >> or in the holy land, in arab countries, in america, and any other country in the world. >> he who uses violence means that he does not know god, because he has to think that he was created by god himself. >> see how interesting experientially a man who goes deeply- we talked about the roots, you know, the coptic bishop in egypt and other- the roots go so deep that you learn to love, and that comes out and we certainly hear this from the rare interview. yeah, jamie? >> i understand that diabetics must be fed on a regular, rigid,
timely routine. so my question is, do you know if a diabetic muslim would still be expected to fast? >> i certainly don't. >> i do. >> oh, well, okay, virginia? >> yes. nursing mothers, babies, and sick do not have to observe ramadan. >> okay. that's part of it. sure. >> when we were first married, we lived in a flat upstairs a muslim couple, forty years ago, and it was first experience with a muslim person- he was a bosnian from yugoslavia; she was a turk- and what amazed me was their very great hospitality. "come. eat. come. stay. if you go to turkey, stay as long as you want. i'll call my mother, i'll call my aunt, i'll... stay." >> yes. the coffee. the coffee and the sweets. >> the good coffee. "eat. eat. eat again." i very rarely experienced that kind of hospitality. even if you should travel
to their land and the people you're staying with wouldn't even know you, it's their duty to welcome the traveler, and make them comfortable. >> you're so right. we almost died of hospitality over there. we learned- you have to- do not clean your plate. once it's off the plate, more is on there. >> "eat!" >> "eat!" and that particular day when we did the sufi was a wonderful time in israel, but i think we had eight different setup and breakdowns- we were all over the place, and we'll be meeting more of those people. and that was a lot of coffee and a lot of sweets, i'll tell you- it was like zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz at the end of it. but it's that graciousness. and you know, that's one very important point, you know, as we're looking at- which we are- at islam. it's rather sad the media portrayal of this religion that at its root is love of god, that spreads love and caring amongst other people. i mean, there it is. yeah, chris? >> at your bazaar,
you can't buy anything without sitting down and having tea. he said, "first drink tea; then we talk price." >> exactly. yeah, and you get a coke or something like that. that's right. i bought my wife a nice necklace there to get out of the doghouse- you know, too many missed gifts here. but oh, yeah, i got coke and we had to talk about it. i mean, we're talking coca- cola here, folks. i mean, you know, it was nice. chris? >> the sheik said that war cannot emerge from those who know and love god. that was a neat statement he made, and i was wondering, how do they- do they emulate jesus, or could you tell me a little more like that, because i heard him mention that? >> sure. it's a point that, you know, one of the things that i'll probably put in the study guide is some of this relationship, but it's the abrahamic tradition- abraham, moses- jesus is looked on as a great prophet; mary is worshiped. so we see a sense of embracing- you know, all this tension and negativity we get between these different faiths, well, islam sees it as the seal- the prophet.